I recently opened up about my struggle with addiction in a post from a few days ago, talking about why FFXIV is a game that I don’t feel like I must play daily to maintain and generally was a pitch for why you should play FFXIV.
The reason I bring this up so early in this post is that anytime I think of the words “pay to win” all I can think of is the hyper-addictive games that I have struggled to put down even when they are no longer enjoyable because I have invested so much time and pretty big numbers are pretty.
I’m not typically a person who spends money on video games. While I will pay the upfront cost of a game, I try not to make in-game purchases other than the odd cosmetic and only if I have been playing a game for years.
Commonly I see an in-game cash shop as a red flag, due to recognizing that I have an addictive personality type, and promise to myself that I will quit the game if I feel like I am forced to buy items to progress. I don’t typically need to progress quickly and am generally patient with how long things can take as long as the goal is achievable and doesn’t feel like a neverending treadmill with no end-game. This isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy a grindy game, rather if I can recognize that my efforts don’t matter and I can never catch up or keep an account maintained without making purchases, I refuse to be interested.
Not only does it feel bad to know that you can never catch up, but in many of these games not being caught up can lead to a player being unable to complete content, join parties or in the most extreme cases be unable to participate in PVP without being slaughtered.
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for many MMOs to have in-game cash shops. Many offer players items that make it faster to progress, but in some cases, store purchases are the only way for a player to progress or have the best gear.
I’ve regrettably played a number of these games and what made them the most frustrating is that I spent so many hours grinding and thought that I still had a chance to keep up with other players. One game in particular sticks out to me as I picked it up shortly after I began working from home and while I undoubtedly was one of the players who had logged the most hours in the game I could never manage to get any best-in-slot items or make a dent on the Marketboard simply because the cash shop was the only way to manage to do either.
I must admit it is always a shame when games are cash-shop-focused as some games are incredibly fun. Games like Genshin Impact had some of the most fun combat, but even though there were ways to get currency for free, a patch could make it so all the characters you had were essentially useless.
Note: If you have any questions about FFXIV that you want me to cover feel free to leave them in a comment below, you can also ask me while I am streaming on Twitch, YouTube or in our community discord.
It’s not a bad idea to check whether a game is pay-to-win or pay-to-progress before you pick it up, especially a game like FFXIV which requires a paid subscription to play unless you choose to remain on the free trial. So, here’s all you need to know before you make the choice.
While FFXIV does have a cash shop it does not provide players with Gear or other forms of purchases that will help a player advance beyond a player who doesn’t make purchases. It would be pretty useless if there were items that were like this in the cash shop as there’s no RNG to Gear in the game.
Players all have the same stats and at most the difference between player’s Gear is the materia they choose to put on their gear. Not only that, but Gear all gets synced down to whatever level content you are doing and players all have the same stats when completing tasks like PVP.
Now, something some people will regard as “pay-to-win” that is available in the cash shop is the story-skip and Job level-skip. While I can understand why someone who doesn’t play FFXIV could think that these are pay-to-win or pay-to-progress purchases, realistically the people who tend to buy these are players who have alt characters or players who simply do not have the time to farm experience on their side jobs.
Realistically the only thing these two purchases do for a player is get them close to the end-game, but even with the additional rewards such as Gil and Chocobo Feathers there is no impactful benefit to making either of these purchases. Quite frankly, as someone who paid for a story skip on my alt, the additional items that came from these purchases were much worse than the rewards I would have gotten from doing the main story, I just couldn’t manage to get my alt up in time before my group of friends had planned to Raid.
My husband found himself in the same boat in one of the instances a group had asked him to Raid. It was his 4th alt and though he typically would level and do the story by hand it wasn’t in the cards this time around and he paid for a story skip.
Even in cases where a player pays for level skips, while you have a leg to argue that it is “pay-to-progress” the reality is that it doesn’t place you ahead of other players and is more for ease than anything else.